United Kingdom Religion

In the UK there is a wide range of religions and societies. There are two national churches: the Anglican (Church of England) in England and the Presbyterian (Church of Scotland) in Scotland. In recent decades, however, society has become increasingly secular.

According to the 2011 census, nearly 60 percent of residents in England and Wales, and 54 percent in Scotland, considered themselves Christians. In Northern Ireland, the corresponding figure was just over 82 percent, almost as many Catholics as Protestants (previously the Protestant population was in the clear majority).

Nearly 3 million Britons are Muslims, most of whom have their roots in South Asia. There are also significant Sikh, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist minorities. In the census, every fourth person indicated that they lacked religion (in Scotland they were even more non-religious).

The British monarch must belong to the Anglican Church and has no right to marry a Catholic. The monarch is also the head of the church. The archbishops of Canterbury and York, as well as bishops and clergy, are formally appointed by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister. However, it is bishops and other high representatives of the church who are proposing candidates for government. Since 1992, women can become priests and from 2014 they can also be appointed bishops. In 2015, a woman was appointed bishop for the first time. In 2015, about 27 percent of the priests were women. Within the Church, there is still a minority who oppose women being priests.

The Archbishop of Canterbury leads the Anglican Church at a global level. His position, however, has been questioned by church leaders, especially Africa, who believe that the church is developing in an overly liberal direction. Contradictions have mainly arisen between those who have welcomed female bishops and openly gay priests and those who opposed them.

The Anglican Church is steadily losing members. As a result, some debaters have begun to question its position as a “national church”.

Between 2012 and 2014, the number of members decreased by 1.7 million. Church statistics also show that the number of church visitors per week in 2015 fell below one million. At the same time, the church is making efforts to reach out via new networks that meet in cafes, pubs and more. The churches are also active in social work, for example in the operation of so-called food banks (see Social conditions).

Many other Protestant churches have also seen their membership decline. The results of a survey of social attitudes, presented in 2018, indicate that this trend has continued. According to BSA (British Social Attitudes), the number of people who said they lacked religion had increased from 41 percent in 2003 to 52 percent in 2018. It is mainly among the young people that the big changes have taken place. According to figures from a survey conducted by the American Research Institute Pew Research Center 2018, only one in ten British people believed that religion was an important part of their lives, but every fifth resident attended a religious ceremony at least once a month.

United Kingdom Population Pyramid 2020

  • Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in United Kingdom, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.

The Scottish Presbyterian Church, comprising about a third of Scots, appoints its own officials and is not subordinate to any secular authority.

Alongside the national churches is the Welsh Anglican Church. There are also a number of free Protestant societies: Methodists, Baptists, United Reform Church, Salvation Army, Pentecostals and others In the 16th century, the Catholic Church in England and Wales was banned in connection with King Henry VIII breaking with the Pope (see Ancient History). The Catholic Church was restored in 1850.

A synod within the Anglican Church in Wales voted in 2013 to allow female priests to be appointed bishops. Similar decisions had previously been made by the Anglican Church in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The main churches in Northern Ireland are the Protestant Church of Ireland and the Catholic Church. The fundamentalist Free Presbyterian Church, founded in 1951 by Pastor Ian Paisley, has had a relatively large political influence in Northern Ireland.

It is forbidden to discriminate against anyone because of religion. Since 2006 it has been prohibited in England and Wales to “stir up religious hatred”. In recent years, the number of hate crimes with religious elements has increased (with the exception of Scotland), mostly targeting Jews and Muslims. According to the Community Security Trust (CST), the number of anti-Semitic incidents increased in 2019, for the fourth year in a row. The increase has been particularly significant when it comes to threats via social media. In recent years, Labor has been accused of not addressing anti-Semitism problems in parts of the party (see Calendar).

Islamic terrorist attacks in Europe, the brutality that the Islamic State (IS) has tested in Syria and Iraq have intensified anti-Muslim sentiments in the United Kingdom. At the same time, there is a religious tolerance. An example of this is that in 2016, London for the first time elected a Muslim, Labor politician Sadiq Khan, as mayor.



Northern Ireland parties agree

On Christmas Eve it is announced that the Northern Ireland parties have now agreed after 12 weeks of negotiations. The agreement means that the parties in January will present a budget balance for the period 2015/2016, which means that a number of cuts must be made within the welfare system by 2017. To facilitate this, the British government has promised an extra grant of £ 2 billion, and that the powers to determine corporate taxes should be transferred to Stormont, the provincial parliament in Belfast. Responsibility for the sensitive issue of parades will continue to be handled by Stormont. A new commission to deal with sensitive issues related to flags, identity, culture and traditions will be established before June 2015. It must submit its first report within 18 months. An archive for oral history to be created until 2016, to give all groups the opportunity to give their picture of the Northern Ireland conflict. A new independent unit, Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), will be established to investigate conflict-related deaths for which no one has been held responsible. Another new body, the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR), will be able to disseminate information to residents about crimes committed against their relatives. However, what is disclosed here cannot be used in a legal process. The number of members in Stormont will be reduced from the 202 elections. By the end of the 2016 election, the number of Northern Ireland ministries will be reduced from twelve to nine. A new system will be introduced to increase transparency in the salaries and allowances paid to members of the provincial parliament. The leaders of the DUP, Sinn Fein, UUP,

Woman is appointed bishop

In the middle of the month, the Anglican Church receives its first female bishop, Libby Lane.

High budget deficit despite good growth

In his autumn speech on the economy, Finance Minister Osborne admits that he will not be able to reduce the deficit in the state budget as much as he promised in connection with the 2010 power shift (about £ 90 billion in 2014). The UK economy has had good growth figures in 2014 (around 3 percent) and unemployment has fallen, but tax revenue has nevertheless been lower than expected, partly because so many of the new jobs are found in low-wage industries. Promises are also being made about more money for public health care. Northern Ireland was also promised greater powers with regard to corporate taxation from 2015, on condition that the Northern Ireland parties succeed in resolving the ongoing dispute within the provincial government. Wales (and Scotland) will also be given greater powers to collect taxes. Osborne also announces long-term cuts,


The government wants to limit the rights of EU immigrants to grants

At the end of the month, Cameron gives a speech urging other EU leaders to agree to his proposal to restrict EU immigrants’ access to the UK welfare system. According to that, everyone who moves to the UK should no longer be entitled to such things as tax breaks for workers, child allowances for children who do not live in the country until after four years. Cameron also wants to limit the opportunities for EU immigrants to bring their family with them to the UK and those who have not found work within six months must leave the country. According to the Prime Minister, the tax cuts and child allowances can provide up to £ 700 a month for a family with two children, and that is significantly more than they would receive in Germany or France. He also says that if he does not heed his demands, he does not exclude anything, something that is interpreted as a threat that the UK is considering leaving the EU. Before the figure, new figures show that immigration to the country has increased and not decreased in the past year, despite the government’s promise to the contrary. Labor has previously put forward a proposal similar to this, but then the time limit was set for the right to two years’ entitlement.

Another mandate to Ukip

20th of November

In a filling election, Ukip wins another manatee in the lower house. Party candidate Mark Reckless gets almost 3,000 more votes than the Conservative candidate. Reckless jumped earlier in the fall to Ukip from the Conservative Party.

The Anglican Church says yes to female bishops

November 17

The Anglican Church votes to allow women to become bishops.

Nicola Sturgeon takes over as prime minister in Scotland

November 14

Nicola Sturgeon takes over as leader of SNP and Scottish Prime Minister.

Immigrants contribute more than they get

A report from the University College of London shows that immigrants from other EU countries contribute more to the UK economy than they charge via public service. The surplus in 2011 was, according to the report, over £ 5 billion.


The UK has to pay more money to the EU

The EU’s new way of calculating the Member States’ contributions to the Union is raising the bill for the UK by just over two billion euros (£ 1.7 billion). Prime Minister Cameron criticizes this in harsh terms, saying that Britain will not pay this sum when the countries’ EU contribution is due on December 1.

Ukip wins a mandate in the lower house

October 9

In a filling election, Ukip wins its first term in the House of Commons when Douglas Carswell, who earlier this year has resigned from the Conservative Party, wins in Clacton on Sea with 60 percent of the vote.

British relief workers are executed

A British aid worker, Alan Henning, held hostage by IS is executed by the militant group at the beginning of the month. In a video showing the execution, reference is made to the British decision to participate in the military operation against IS. The Muslim Council of Britain, the Muslim Council of Britain, condemns the act. Hundreds of Muslim leaders are reported to have pleaded for Henning to be released. That he was killed in connection with the Muslim holiday of Id al-Adha is seen as a provocation by many British Muslims. The British government is criticized for not doing more to get Henning free.


Crisis talks in Northern Ireland

Multi-party talks are to be launched in Northern Ireland, where the provincial government has major problems due to disagreement over cuts in the welfare system. The Northern Ireland budget, about £ 40 billion, is said to be almost twice the tax revenue the province receives.

Yes to air raids against IS

September 26th

At the end of the month, Cameron recalls Parliament voting with clear numbers for Britain to participate in international military operations against IS.

Scotland votes no to independence

On September 18, a majority of voters in Scotland voted no to independence. The margin is larger than expected, 55 votes no and 45 percent yes. However, work is now underway on drafting the bill that will give the Scottish Parliament greater powers. Shortly after the election, Alex Salmond says he will step down as party leader for SNP.

No UK flights to IS

Just over a week into September, Defense Secretary Philip Hammond says Britain will not participate in the air strikes against IS in Syria that the United States plans to implement in collaboration with several other countries. In mid-September, IS executes a British aid worker who the group has taken as hostage a year earlier. Another British aid worker is still being held by the same group.

The Yes side takes the lead in Scotland

One week into September, the yes-side leads by a marginal margin before the referendum in Scotland.

New revelations about sexual abuse of children

Yet another scandal surrounding child sexual abuse shakes Britain. This time it is an independent report describing how at least 1,400 children in the north English town of Rotherham were sexually abused during the years 1997–2013. The perpetrators are said to belong to gangs, where the members are mainly of Pakistani origin. Several of the victims had reported abuse to the police who had not taken any action. Neither did the social service intervene. According to the report, fear of being accused of racism was a reason why the authorities had not acted.

Increased preparedness against terror

At the end of the month, the UK raises its preparedness for terrorism from “significant” to “difficult”.

British support for the fight against IS

When the crisis in connection with the extremist movement Islamic State’s (IS) advance in northern Iraq worsens in August, Britain contributes by releasing supplies from the air to Yazid refugees on Mount Sinjar. They also do reconnaissance flights over the area and send military equipment to Kurdish regional forces. Britain then lapses to take on a more active role in the fight against IS, but Prime Minister Cameron stresses that the country will not send any ground troops to Iraq.


Success for Ukip in the EU elections

May 22

In the elections to the European Parliament, Ukip will be the largest party with nearly 27 percent of the vote and 24 of the UK’s 73 seats, followed by Labor with just over 24 percent and 20 seats. The Conservative Party gets 23 percent and 19 seats. The Liberal Democrats are making a disaster election, getting just under 7 percent. The party gets a mandate and loses 9. The green party makes good choices with just under 7 percent and 3 mandates. Two seats go to the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) and one to Plaid Cymru. The right-wing GDP loses the two seats the party won in 2009. In Northern Ireland, the UUP gets. DUP and Sinn Féin were their mandate. Just over one in three voters vote.

Ahead of Labor in local elections

May 22

In the local elections, Labor receives the most votes, and receives 338 new seats. This means that 82 cities and municipalities out of 162 will be governed by Labor. The Conservative Party loses 230 seats, but retains the board in 41 municipalities. Ukip also makes a good local election and gets 163 seats, against the previous 2. Even the Green Party is moving from 20 to 38 seats. For the Liberal Democrats, there will be a noticeable setback as the party loses 310 seats.

Abu Hamza is sentenced to life imprisonment in the United States

The militant Muslim preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri, who was expelled from the United Kingdom to the United States in 2012, is convicted of terrorist offenses in a US court (see April 2012). He is convicted of all eleven counts. In January 2015, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Unemployment is falling

New statistics show that unemployment has dropped to 6.8 percent, which is the lowest figure in five years.

Gerry Adams is released

The Sinn Fein leader will be released on April 4, without any prosecution being brought. But it now becomes a matter for the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) whether to proceed. Adams says he voluntarily went to the police to answer questions, but he did not expect to be arrested. A group of Protestant loyalists gather outside the Antrim police station, where Adams has been detained, to protest the release. However, Adams leaves the police station via a back road. He later holds a press conference where he says he still supports the Northern Ireland police PSNI.


Gerry Adams is arrested and interrogated for IRA murder

April 30th

On April 30, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 for interrogation for the IRA’s murder of ten-child mum Jean McConville in 1972. Adams denies any involvement in the act. McConville was abducted by the IRA who suspected her of providing the British Army with information. The IRA admitted in 1999 that it had murdered and buried her in a secret place. Her remains were found in 2003. A 77-year-old man, Ivor Bell, has been charged with involvement in the act. The arrest of Adams takes place just three weeks before the local elections and the election to the European Parliament.


President of Ireland on state visit

Queen Elizabeth receives the President of Ireland Michael D Higgins. The visit is historic as it is the first time ever that an Irish head of state makes an official visit to the country.

Older Britons favor new budget

March 19

Finance Minister Osborne presents some changes regarding pensions in the new budget, in particular that it is possible to take out the supplementary pension as a lump sum and decide how to use it (until now, the British have in principle been investing the money through insurance companies which have then paid them out as a kind of annuity). New rules for when you have to pay taxes for your assets should also benefit many small savings. Some minor points include reduced fees for bingo games and reduced taxes on beer, and a freeze on taxes on cider and Scotch whiskey. Several newspapers point out that the budget is in large measure to benefit older Britons.

“No EU referendum on Labor wins election”

Labor leader Ed Miliband says that if his party returns to power after the 2010 election, it will not announce a referendum on the EU until 2020 at the earliest. However, he makes a reservation and says such a vote could be relevant if the EU demands that the country leave. more powers. He also points out that he believes the UK belongs to the EU, but that cooperation must be reformed. A few days later, Cameron makes a play, listing seven points that the EU must fulfill in order for Britain to remain a member. Among other things, he excludes all new attempts to deepen cooperation, says he wants to limit immigration from new member states and wants to reduce the European Court of Human Rights’ influence on the UK judiciary.

More power to the members when Labor chooses a new leader

Labor has called for a special conference in which the party with a clear majority (86 percent) votes to cut some of the ties between the unions and the party. This means that the next time Labor votes a new party leader, each member gets one vote. In the previously complicated system, the members had one-third of the vote, the MPs a third and the unions a third. At the same time, leading forces among the Conservatives are beginning to talk about their party as a “workers’ party” with the goal of winning more voters among the working class.


Government crisis threatens in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s Prime Minister Peter Robinson threatens to step down. This happens after a lawsuit against John Downey, who is accused of carrying out a bomb attack in Hyde Park in London in 1982, is closed down. Four British soldiers were killed in the act. Downey denies that he performed the attack. Since Downey was not convicted of the crime, he is not subject to the amnesty that prisoners from the semi-military groups were granted in connection with the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement. It now emerges that British governments had sent letters to 187 suspected republicans, who were not convicted of any crimes or who had fled justice, stating that they were no longer wanted by the police. 149 such letters have been sent by the former British Labor government and 38 by the bourgeois government. Although Downey received such a letter, he has continued to be wanted by Scotland Yard. Robinson demands that this be investigated publicly, as British Prime Minister David Cameron promises to do. Peter Robinson says he is happy with this. Northern Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Martin McGuinness, however, claims that the major parties have known about this.

“Independent Scotland may not use the pound”

Finance Minister George Osborne says Scotland will not be able to continue the pound as its currency if the Scots vote yes to independence in September. The line of the Conservative Party is supported by both Labor and the Liberal Democrats. Scottish SNP leader Alex Salmond replies that if Scotland cannot share the pound with the rest of the UK, Scots will not be prepared to take responsibility for their share of the UK government debt.

Severe floods in England

South and south-west England are suffering from severe flooding. Military is deployed to assist in rescue operations. Prime Minister Cameron receives criticism for the government’s delay in acting.

Same-sex marriage is approved in Scotland

February 4th

On 4 February, the Scottish Parliament voted to approve same-sex marriage with 105 votes in favor and 18 against.


500 Syrian refugees to the UK

Nick Clegg says Britain should host 500 refugees from Syria. The pledge applies to the most vulnerable groups, including torture victims and women and children at risk of violence. Who should come should be decided on a case-by-case basis, and the British government has said no to the UN’s request that the country receive more quota refugees. Instead, the British government wants to invest more in helping the Syrians who have moved to neighboring countries (around 2.4 million people), and already contributes £ 600 million to it. In the UK, there are already around a thousand Syrians who have sought political asylum in the country.

The aid policy is being changed

The government announces a reorganization of the aid policy, where more money will be invested in economic development and a smaller part will go to fight famine and disease.

No criticism against the shooting death in 2011

The inquest of the police shooting of Mark Duggan, who triggered violent riots in London and other British cities (see August 2011), is now complete. According to it, the police have acted according to the law (however, two of the ten jurors have a different view). According to the jury, Duggan carried no weapon when he was shot, but they believed he had thrown it away before the police intervened against him.

The government parties disagree on economic policy

Finance Minister George Osborne says in an interview that the government has not even come halfway in its attempts to get the British economy organized. He says that new cuts of £ 25 billion are needed, and that they will primarily take place within the social welfare system, including by eliminating housing allowances for people under 25. However, he gets a bribe from his government colleague Nick Clegg who thinks his party, the Liberal Democrats, has a different view on how to achieve its goals. Clegg has also criticized the line of conservatives towards the EU. Business Minister Vince Cable, also he Liberal Democrat, has previously criticized the Conservative Party’s immigration policy. It is seen as an attempt by the smaller of the government parties to highlight their particularity before the 2015 parliamentary elections.

United Kingdom Religion